许多人，包括我在内，都认为保罗写给哥林多教会的第二封信是这位使徒最个人，最充满感情的一封信。他从遭患难并得安慰开始（林后1:3-11），然后谈到教会中的一些人使他忧愁（2:1-11）。但到第3章，他突然转换话题谈论主的荣耀。以前当我读到这一章时，我会专注于“什么是” 荣耀和“如何” 荣耀神。然而这一次，他“为什么”谈荣耀更吸引了我。
Proverbs 19 [Read]
Proverbs 20 [Read]
2 Corinthians 3 [Read]
Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians church is seen by many including me as the most personal and passionate letter by the Apostle. He begins with troubles and comfort (2Cor 1:3-11), and then moves into grief caused by some in the church (2:1-11). In chapter 3, he suddenly shifts gear to talk about glory of the Lord. I used to focus on the “what” and “how” when I read this chapter, but this time I am more intrigued by the “why”.
Acts 18 describes the establishment of the Corinthians church by Paul. After such a miraculous vision from the Lord himself (Acts 18:9-10), Paul must be fully invigorated. He went forth without any hesitation. Even though the resistance was great, he stayed in that metropolitan city for 18 months to preach the word of God and established the firm foundation of faith for the people in that church (1Cor 3:10). We can imagine how he must have felt when he heard about the things described in his first letter to the Corinthians. But now, certain “super apostles” from outside (2Cor 11:5) were stirring up doubts about Paul’s calling as a minister of the New Covenant. This obviously grieved him greatly considering his past relationship with the church, and that’s when he turned and talked about glory of the ministry in chapter 3, the treasures in the jar of clay (4:7), the ministry of reconciliation (5:18), and personal hardship (6:3-10) before coming back to the subject of grief again (7:8).
Was chapter 3 meant as a self-defense for his apostleship? Maybe so. But as I dig deeper into his emotion and compare with my own experience, I begin to see the underneath layer of self-exhortation. It was Christ who gave Paul the confidence (3:4); it was Christ who made Paul competent as minister of a new covenant (3:6); it was Christ who removed the veil (3:14); and it was Christ’s spirit who set him free (3:17). Most importantly, it is Christ’s glory that will transform his faithful servants into his likeness with ever-increasing glory (3:18). With that vision once again clarified, he can brush off the petty attacks and move on with the newly gained strength.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace”. O Lord, let the words of this beautiful hymn help us focus on your glory and grace, until we meet you face to face. Amen!
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